Urban Research

Revealing Spaces

In 2014 Mapping Futures was awarded a small R&D grant for our project proposal “Revealing Spaces” in response to ECFs 2014 Idea Camp rethinking public space call. Our project, entitled ‘Surfacing the Hidden Services of Public Space Through Hyper-local Data Campaigns’ aimed to disrupt current discourse and practice around public space design, which tends to be driven by what we can see as opposed to a space’s invisible services, that is, factors that affect us on a subliminal level impacting our health and wellbeing but go unnoticed by everyday citizens and poorly considered in design responses by practitioners. We set out to answer the research question: “Can digital information help urban communities to become more active participants in the nurturing of an authentic sense of place?” By revealing this invisible knowledge we aimed to encourage democratic decision-making on many levels. We produced two mini action-research reports as a result of our pilot work, (using the Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park as our case study area) which demonstrated the opportunities and possibilities that ‘revealing data’ can have in encouraging the co-creation of place: The first was based on the insights of participants on a Soundwalk who were asked to navigate their neighbourhood through their sense of sound. The second was a reflection on the creation of knowledge hubs, and the role they can play in engaging citizens in making more informed decisions about transforming their public spaces.

Feeling Good in Public Spaces

Building on the work of Revealing Spaces led to our collaboration with the Feeling Good Foundation and subsequent establishment of a working group to further investigate research that exposes the ‘health of place’. The Feeling Good Foundation partnered with the EPSRC funded ARCC network (focused on coordinating and disseminating research relevant to adaptation and resilience of the UK’s built environment and infrastructure, based at the University of Oxford) to curate research on the impact of urban design on human health and wellbeing and coordinate a seminar series called Feeling Good in Public Spaces, focusing on the relevance of multisensory design.